Brian Shields (1951-1997)

Brian Shields was born in Liverpool in 1951. He was one of twelve children to his Mother and Father Dennis and Agnes Shields. By all accounts, Dennis was an accomplished artist but having twelve children was unable to provide for his family by painting alone, he worked as docker in Liverpool to support his family. Brian demonstrated his artistic talent from an early age, his school friends nicknamed him ‘Braaq’ a misspelling of the 20th century French master ‘Georges Braque’.

After leaving school Brian became a trainee chef at a hotel in the North Yorkshire town of Harrogate. It is believed that Brian painted a mural on the restaurant wall which attracted a lot of attention. The mural created so much intrigue, a local journalist identified Brian to be the artist which then sparked the first stages of his career as a professional artist.

Brian held a number of successful exhibitions from 1974 and in 1977 he held solo exhibitions in London’s west end, the north of England and a sell-out show in the Lake District. The Times newspaper was running an article on Brian and described him as one of the most successful British artists in England at that time. The Hibbert Brothers Art Gallery established in 1834 held a solo exhibition of Brian’s work in 1976.

Brian’s paintings are very reminiscent of L.S Lowry. The industrial landscapes of the north depict working class people going about their everyday life, whether it’s old mills, terrace houses, a cricket match or a day at the races, Brian’s’ work carries a humorous and often playful narrative which we all connect with. Brian would often include himself as a small mischievous boy, he can be identified wearing a black and white stripped jumper, black wellington boots and wavy hair. Brain’s sister ‘Ann’ unfortunately passed away at the age of twenty-one and in memory of his sister, Brian would sign ‘Ann’ on a number of his works and also include Ann as girl with black hair wearing a red dress. From the mid-seventies, you may often see the following inscription on Brian’s Paintings, ‘Braaq’ a date, for example (76), ‘F.B.A’ which relates to the Federation of British Artists’ and ‘ANN’ in memory and dedication to his late sister. A small number of Brian’s paintings also contain his late Mothers name ‘Agnes’.

Brian unfortunately passed away of a brain haemorrhage in 1997 at the premature age of 46. He left behind a painting legacy that sits proudly alongside his contemporaries of the Northern art scene and artists of his generation. His memory continues to live on through his much-adored paintings. In 2014, one of Brian’s paintings titled ‘Does this mean there’s no Dinner Now’ hammered down at auction for £56,000. Interest in Brian’s work remains strong and Carnes Fine Art is delighted be able to share a small part of his incredibly journey